Rural round-up

November 18, 2017

Fruit early but shortage of workers – Yvonne O’Harra:

Cromwell and Roxburgh orchardists are intending to start harvesting cherries this week, which is up to 10 days earlier than usual.
However, there is also a shortage of workers.

Orchardists spoken to by Southern Rural Life said at this early stage of the season, the region’s crops of cherries and apricots were shaping up as some of the best there had been for a few years, thanks to the milder spring.

Cromwell orchardist Mark Jackson, of Jacksons’ Orchard, said everyone he had talked to was ”pretty happy” with the season so far and with the way the crops looked. . .

The new post-quake normal for south Marlborough – NZ’s biggest cul de sac – Oliver Lewis:

In a pair of towns straddling a major highway, the sound of engine noise at night has become a curiosity.

People prick up their ears from inside earthquake-damaged homes, wondering about a noise that until a year ago was a near-constant hum in the background.

Any road big enough to matter is called arterial, but for the south Marlborough towns of Seddon and Ward the description is particularly apt for State Highway 1.

Winding its way through the surrounding vineyards and gold-coloured rolling hills, the highway pumped through a steady stream of travellers and trade – lifeblood for businesses in the area. . .

Mustering courage – Alex Cook:

Stretching along both sides of the Clarence River and straddling the Clarence Fault, which runs between the seaward and inward Kaikōura Ranges, is Muzzle Station.

It’s New Zealand’s most isolated high country station, and when the Kaikōura earthquake struck, its most precariously placed.

No time to read? Listen here now

It’s also the home of managers Fiona and Guy Redfern, and when the 7.8 quake hit just past midnight on 14 November, the couple could hear the horrific sound of rock walls around the house tumbling down, and the house cracking with the movement. . . .

Gardner makes it a double – Tim Fulton:

Mid Canterbury Texel breeder Paul Gardner is a second-time winner of the Canterbury A&P Mint Lamb competition.

Gardner, farming at Mayfield, won the supreme prize in 2014 and has previously headlined other categories.

The competition was open to all breeds and celebrated the quality and variety of lamb available in New Zealand. . .

Dr Dirt gets due reward:

Dr Ants Roberts has been awarded the Ray Brougham Trophy for his outstanding contribution to pastoral farming.

Nicknamed Dr Dirt by his colleagues, Roberts is a soil scientist and Ravensdown’s chief scientific officer.

“I’m deeply humbled to be recognised amongst my peers in this way for effectively doing something that I love and am passionate about. . . .


Rural round-up

January 31, 2014

Auckland siphoning Waikato’s future:

Federated Farmers is concerned that the Auckland Watercare firm’s application to take water from the Waikato will see lost opportunities for economic growth in the Waikato.

“This part of the Waikato River is already nearly full allocated with water takes, at 10 percent of its one in 5 year low flow (Q5), so if this application is approved, Waikato ratepayers lose out,” says James Houghton, Federated Farmers provincial president for Waikato.

“Watercare are asking for a further 200,000 cubic meters a day on top of the 150,000 they already take, to supply a city that doesn’t pay rates in the Waikato. Our council needs to be thinking about the long game here and what benefits there are in giving away Waikato’s resources, which are needed to maintain and build Waikato’s economy. If this consent proceeds under the current rules it is going to strangulate Waikato’s ability to grow. . .

Grassland science leader rewarded – Annette Scott:

More intensive farming has increased demand for greater pasture performance in New Zealand but Professor Syd Easton is confident there is technology and expertise to keep farmers well served. He talked to Annette Scott.

Emeritus Professor Syd Easton has been awarded the Ray Brougham Trophy for his significant contribution to grassland farming.

The AgResearch Grasslands, Palmerston North-based scientist is the third AgResearch scientist to win the prestigious pastoral science award. . . .

Bottom lines of animal welfare James Houghton:

A key component of farming is animal welfare and what influences that is culture and legislation. What we see in every industry is a bottom and top percent that stand out from the rest.

As is common in business and society, we focus on the bottom percent because they are the ones that need to change. In agriculture, the majority are doing a fine job of farming but there is still room for them to improve – looking to our top percent who are the game changers and leaders of the industry. However, our bottom dwellers are letting the industry down, and it is time for them to shape up or get out. We don’t want you if you can’t manage the basic requirement of treating your stock with respect and care. Likewise, this goes for those who disrespect and neglect the environment.

Animal welfare cases are never cut and dry, we need clear-cut standards and a fair and balanced approach to employment law cases, if we want to make those who are letting the industry down to be accountable. The Federation is proactive in educating its members about best practice and how to meet animal welfare requirements. We work well with key stakeholders on this issue, such as WSPA, The New Zealand Veterinary Association and DairyNZ, because we all have a vested interest in the welfare of animals. . .

Farmers back the battle for birds:

Federated Farmers is backing the Department of Conservation’s ‘Battle for Birds’ by extending the use of Sodium fluoroacetate (1080) to 500,000 hectares of the DoC estate, ahead of an anticipated explosion in mice, rat and mustelids due to the 2014 mast season.

“With one million tonne of seed due to fall in the 2014 mast season we are almost certain to see an explosion in rodent numbers and with them, their major predators,” says Anders Crofoot, Federated Farmers Game & Pest spokesperson.

“Once this easy food supply ends in the spring, this plague of pests will turn on our native fauna as an easy meal. 

“When we have a tool that works, like Sodium fluoroacetate, then we must use it to keep these pest populations in check. . .

Lifestyle sells rural work – Stephen Bell:

Rural employers need to provide a good lifestyle and demonstrate a path exists for career advancement to attract young people to the countryside, Victoria University researcher Dr Michael Sloan has found.

Sloan surveyed 24,000 people as part of his thesis and found people moving from urban areas to the country had less social life satisfaction after the move but had greater outdoor satisfaction with the man-made and natural environments.

He spent three years comparing people’s expectations of moving to urban and rural areas with the reality after the move. . .

Farmers to put reputation at steak:

Nationwide, farmers are preparing their entries for the annual Beef + Lamb New Zealand Steak of Origin Competition.

The event, entering its twelfth year, recognises New Zealand’s most tender and tasty steak, an award taken seriously by industry professionals.   

Beef + Lamb New Zealand CEO, Dr Scott Champion, says the competition is an opportunity to showcase the dedication and skill so evident in New Zealand beef farming.

“The quality of New Zealand beef is a product of the hard-work and dedication of our farmers and this event rewards these efforts, making it a competitive and highly regarded award,” says Champion. . .


Good science and good farming at Grasslands conference

November 24, 2010

An International Grasslands Conference in Ireland five years ago convinced opened my farmer’s eyes to New Zealand’s natural advantages – the climate and soils which help us grow good pasture.

It also confirmed the already positive view he had of Grasslands Association as an organisation.

Farmers tend to be good adopters of science because it’s generally easy to apply findings and measure the benefits. Grasslands’ conferences brings together scientists and farmers for their mutual benefit.

At the conference dinner last week I was immediately struck  by the mutual respect scientists and farmers had for each other and the positive atmosphere. It was great to be somewhere where farming is valued, appreciated and celebrated.

A highlight of the dinner was the presentation of the Grasslands Trust Awards.

The Ray Brougham Trophy for an outstanding national contribution to the New Zealand grassland industry went to John McKenzie, general manager of  Wrightson Seeds.

The Regional Award for exceptional effort above and beyond the normal career contribution that supports the regional pastoral agricultural industry, be it technology development or an aspect of farming itself, went to Andy Macfarlane. He runs his own consulting firm, Macfarlane Rural Business, among many other contributions to farming.

The Farming Awards are given in recognition of  high performance pastoral farming and adoption of new technologies. The criteria includes: 

  • Good grassland farming – an impressive, profitable grassland-based business, run for at least five years on the property.
  • Innovative approach – using the latest grassland technology effectively.
  • Sustainable management – a good degree of sustainability in the enterprise and a strong responsibility for environmental matters.
  • Communication skills – passing on good grassland farming skills to others in the region, and including local community activity.

 These were won by Craig and Ros Mckenzie who farm at Methven, and my farmer.

The certificate says:  The presentation of this honour is a just tribute to outstanding ability and confidence in the potential of NZ’s greatest industry – Grassland Farming.

My farmer is quietly chuffed by  the honour and I’m basking in reflected glory.


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